National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Phase 1 Rescue Project Dutch Records in Guyana

The first phase of the project Rescue of Dutch Records in Guyana is finalized. This mutual cultural heritage project focuses on digital accessibility of 20 meters of archives of the Dutch West Indian Company (WIC) of 1620 – 1795 (1810) in Guyana. Phase 1 of this rescue project consisted of a preliminary conservation training for the employees of the National Archives of Guyana, and of preparation for digitization of the WIC archives.

Immediate cause

The WIC archive in Guyana was and still is in a very poor condition. The archive is badly packed, there is a lot of fragile and acidified material, severe discolouration of pages, ink corrosion, mould, and damage caused by insects. Before the start of the project, Guyana had indicated that they were not equipped with the appropriate knowledge, tools and materials for the preliminary conservation of the WIC archive. Training in this field of expertise together with the use and availability of proper materials were necessary in order to save the Guyana WIC archives from further deterioration.

Education in preliminary conservation

The training in preliminary conservation was given by Peter van der Most, paper conservation specialist, to 4 employees of the Guyana archive. The participants were trained in damage recognition, acid-free packing, small reparations and disassembling of archive records.

Preparing for phase 2 and 3

In order not to lose any information written on the paper registers, most of the registers had to be disassembled. Now this is done,
phase 2 of the project can start. This phase, improving accessibility, is scheduled for the Summer of 2013 and will be executed by archivist Roelof Hol. The actual digitization of the archives will take place in phase 3, the final phase of the project.

Partners

The project Rescue of Dutch Records in Guyana is a joint venture of the Dutch NationaalArchief and the National Archives of Guyana. It is supported by the Guyana Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport; the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; the Netherlands Embassy in Paramaribo (Suriname). UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) assists with the external communication.